IDF Soldiers to Get Their Own ‘GI Bill’

YERUSHALAYIM -
IDF Chief of Staff Gadi Eisenkott seen during an army exercise at the IDF Northern Command, January 20, 2016. Photo by IDF Spokesperson/FLASH9
IDF Chief of Staff Gadi Eisenkott (L) seen during an army exercise at the IDF Northern Command. (IDF Spokesperson/Flash90)

Beginning this fall, all demobilized IDF combat soldiers will be eligible for a full academic education, courtesy of the IDF. A report in Yediot Aharonot Monday said that IDF Chief of Staff Gadi Eisenkott has decided to implement an Israeli version of the American Army’s post-World War II GI Bill, in which soldiers will have their tuition paid if they attend an approved institution of higher learning, including colleges, universities or trade schools. Tuition at most Israeli institutions of higher learning average between NIS 10,000-15,000 a year.

Eisenkott has been preparing the plan for some time, the report said. The tuition will be funded by donations to the IDF, which had previously been used to provide “treats” for soldiers, to build facilities, etc. The tuition program itself will pay for two-thirds of the cost of study; the other third will be paid for, if a soldier wishes, from their demobilization bonus, which can be used for travel, education or to start a business.

Eisenkott met Sunday with Finance Minister Moshe Kachlon to discuss funding, and asked that he approve implementing the program for all soldiers, not just combat soldiers. The program will cost NIS 230 million a year, the report said.

The tuition program is in addition to the demobilization bonus, and all soldiers are fully eligible for both, without an income test. Soldiers from needy backgrounds, as well as new immigrant soldiers, will have their full tuition paid for by the new program even if they are not in combat units.